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Olympia cougar sighting no cause for alarm, wildlife officials say

Cougar sightings are common in the spring, especially in wooded areas.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Cara Stinson loves going for ATV rides in the woods surrounding her property near Olympia’s Black Lake.

But after a nearby neighbor captured video of a cougar walking down their driveway, Stinson said she may skip out on any trail activities this year.

“I think about my dogs and I think about riding on my quad, envisioning being attacked,” Stinson said. 

But Washington Fish & Wildlife Sergeant Chris Zuchlewski said cougar sightings in the spring are common, especially in the wooded area where Stinson lives.

Zuchlewski said cougar attacks are extremely rare.

A 2018 attack that killed a bicyclist on a trail near North Bend was the second cougar-related death in the state in nearly 100 years.

He said sightings have become more common because of home security cameras and motion-activated doorbells.

”A lot of times you would never know that they were even there and made that quick walk through,” Zuchlewski said. 

He said in the spring young male cougars are looking for new territory and will go where there’s prey like deer, raccoons, and domestic pets.

Zuchlewski recommended keeping pets and their food indoors overnight.

If you come across a cougar, don’t panic, Zuchlewski said.

“You never want to like run from a cougar," Zuchlewski said. "You actually want to not turn your back. You want to make eye contact. You want to speak confidently with that animal so that it doesn't view you as prey.”

He said if you spot a cougar around your home, on a hike, or on the side of the highway, contact the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

According to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, there are an estimated 1,900 to 2,100 adult cougars living in the state.

    

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